The duo, part of the winningest class in Mizzou history, had their dreams realized last night when the the Detroit Pistons took Kim English with the 44th pick in the NBA Draft and the San Antonio Spurs selecting Denmon 15 spots later at No. 59, the next-to-last selection of the night.
English, the true son from Baltimore, Maryland will be remembered most for his memorable run in the Big 12 Tournament to win MVP, coming off the bench as a freshman on a tear in the NCAA Tournament including going OFF against Marquette and coming off the bench to hit the game-winning free throws for an injured JT Tiller and his love for Missouri (he is also a great ambassador for the University) and an epic person to follow on Twitter (
English came to Missouri as a four-star recruit with a lot of expectations. He was on his way to meeting them as he led the team in scoring as a sophomore at nearly 15 points per game. But, his career derailed as he was a punching bag of fans during a disappointing junior year in which he averaged just 11 points per game, but was awful in virtually everything besides scoring – including shooting. He contemplated transferring, but then-new coach Frank Haith – who recruited English while at Miami (also English’s second choice) was hired, and he stayed. English was one of the first to defend the hiring of the new coach and English was upbeat and vowed to come back strong. I figured he would too, he was too skilled of a player not too. Then Laurence Bowers went down with the ACL injury and English, listed at 6-6, probably barely 6-5, was going to play power forward?
Missouri made it work. It worked wonders and English was a completely new player, where he had his best overall season, with career highs in rebounding (4.5), shooting percentage (52.1%), 3-point shooting (45.9%) and averaged 14.5 points per contest, his second best career mark. He also heads to the NBA as the No. 2 all-time 3-point shooter (makes).
“Because of what our team makeup was last year, him making that sacrifice to play a different position, but he played the position like a guard,” Haith said. “All his workouts, he came back with some really good reviews from the people I talked to. A lot of people were really impressed with how he defended in that position in his workouts.”
English willed his way into the NBA, its absolutely amazing, especially playing out of position. In the long run, it helped his NBA draft stock as he became a better rebounder and defender. Everyone knows he can already shoot. One year ago today, many Mizzou fans would have been shocked if you told them English was going to be drafted.
“It was definitely nerve racking,” English said. “I know the teams I performed well in front of but I know that so much stuff can happen,” English said. “My workout went really well with them. It wasn’t my best, but I knew I would be in a good situation. I would have felt blessed to play with any team. No matter the numbers, Detroit is a really really good situation for me and my position. I’m just excited to get there and work.”
The Pistons finished 25-41 last season, two spots out of the Eastern Conference playoffs. They have three point guards (Rodney Stuckey, Brandon Knight and Will Bynum) under contract for next season, but do not have a player on next year’s roster listed as a shooting guard, where English could develop into the designated shooter.
Denmon, a two-time All-Big 12 performer, is a pure shooter and scorer but his size (6-foot-3, 185-pounds) was a concern for NBA scouts as his weaknesses are his inability to create his own shot, although he has improved his ability to get to the rim and finish and is an excellent free throw shooter.
The Spurs have the answer for Denmon, who led Mizzou in scoring the last two seasons: position change to point guard. Denmon showed ability as a ball handler in the Missouri offense, but other than times as a sophomore, did not play the point.
“I’m really happy for Marcus,” English said. “I’m happy he got put in a really good organization like San Antonio.”
The Spurs finished with the league’s best record at 50-16 a season ago before losing to Oklahoma City in the Western Conference Finals. Denmon will have a chance to learn from long-time Spurs point guard Tony Parker.
“Glad to be a part of such a great organization, excited about the opportunity, ready to work, #Spurs,” Denmon, a second-team All-American who will be most remembered for his epic 40-point game against Kansas earlier this year, tweeted.
This was the first time since 1989 (Byron Irvin, Gary Leonard) that two Tigers were chosen in the same draft.
English, who will wear No. 24 and not have to change his Twitter handle.
“What a great night for Mizzou basketball. I was really happy for both guys, I think they’re both going to great organizations,” Haith said. “Those guys deserve a lot, because of how hard they work, to have an opportunity to continue their dreams in the NBA.”
It is not a guarantee that either will make their respective rosters, but both have a good shot, notably English.
Post Ricardo Ratliffe was another Tiger that was hoping to see his name called on draft night, but the 6-9 forward was not selected. He will certainly get invited to someone’s camp and have a chance to make a team.
MUtigers.com: Mizzou Duo English, Denmon Drafted into NBA
The Trib: English to Detroit, Denmon to San Antonio in NBA draft
The Missourian: Missouri basketball players English, Denmon picked in NBA Draft
KC Star: MU’s English, Denmon drafted in second round
PowerMizzou: Second Round Success